Powerful Pakistan pummel Proteas
Umar Gul followed up Pakistan's dominant batting performance to earn a series-sealing 95-run victory over South Africa at Centurion in the second Twenty20 international.
After winning the toss, touring skipper Mohammad Hafeez - well supported by Ahmed Shehzad’s enterprising 25-ball 46 - led the way by crunching 86 from only 51 deliveries.
That secured a commanding total of 195 for seven, leaving the Proteas with a mountain to climb in their efforts to win a two-match rubber ruined by the first encounter being washed out.
The victory target proved way beyond the hosts, who were dismissed for 100 as Gul claimed incredible figures of 5-6, identical to those he managed versus New Zealand during the 2009 World Twenty20.
South Africa got off to a decent start, Lonwabo Tsotsobe having Nasir Jamshed taken at midwicket.
Yet that merely brought in Hafeez, who - after initial good fortune - looked a far cry from the often-befuddled batsman that struggled so mightily in a 3-0 Test defeat.
Having blocked his first ball to point, he could only watch on as Francois du Plessis, following a brilliant diving stop, missed the non-striker’s stumps - a dose that was repeated by mid-on, who had then collected the ball. The greater failure, however, lay with the South Africa skipper, who could easily have lapped the ball for Tsotsobe to complete the run-out.
Shehzad had the perfect response, combining beautiful timing with brute force, the highlight being a powerful four down the ground off Kyle Abbott, who he subsequently pulled for six.
Hafeez, meanwhile, signalled his intent when Robin Peterson was introduced, following a cut four with a glorious straight maximum - a shot which heralded a period in which the duo found regular boundaries with ease.
It speaks volumes for Shehzad that it was often difficult to discern which batsman was playing particular shots, with the 21-year-old replicating the eye-catching style Hafeez so often shows when in form.
It was fitting, too, that both got themselves out; Shehzad was run out having failed to beat the in-field with a reverse sweep while Hafeez trod on his stumps in the midst of playing a glorious drive to the fence, Rory Kleinveldt the fortunate bowler.
Chris Morris, with 2-35, Abbott and Kleinveldt dragged things back slightly thereafter, yet the damage was already done.
South Africa’s reply was best summed up by the home crowd being most entertained when giant Pakistan seamer Mohammad Irfan comically collided with an over-keen ballboy who had stepped on to the playing surface.
Yet for the impressive contingent of Pakistan fans, there was plenty to smile about as Gul produced another sparkling display to become the sprint format’s most prolific bowler with 74 scalps.
After Junaid Khan had got rid of veteran pinch-hitter Henry Davids, the paceman had du Plessis taken behind, Morris at third man, Justin Ontong lbw and Farhaan Behardien at point.
In between those four dismissals, Irfan bowled key man AB de Villiers for a 35 highlighted by the shot of the day, a cover-driven six.
Yet that would be one of the few positive moments for South Africa as Gul returned later to complete victory - and his outstanding figures - with a short ball that Abbott edged to Kamran Akmal.